DEAR ABBY: While I always enjoy your column, I thought your advice to "Wants My Space" (Dec. 14), whose son "Dustin" moved away five years ago and expects her to keep his room as he left it, was off the mark. I would have told Dustin what I have told both of my daughters several times: It is not "your" room; I merely let you use it.
Not only is "Wants" not obligated to use her home as a storage facility, she's doing her son a disservice by doing it under these circumstances. At 24, he needs to learn that if he wants a service, it's his obligation to procure it. There are plenty of businesses that can fulfill his needs at a reasonable price. -- MATT IN PROVIDENCE FORGE, VA.
DEAR MATT: For the most part, readers agreed with you, and they offered their own "take" on how to accomplish the removal of the young man's belongings:
DEAR ABBY: An acquaintance of mine had a similar problem with his son. The son expected his dad to provide storage space at no charge for an indefinite length of time. My friend told his son: "No way! You get it out of here within six months, or I'll sell it and keep the money for storage fees."
He didn't think his father would actually do it. Well, he was wrong. And now the younger siblings don't even think of leaving any of their stuff at the father's house. -- SHIRLEY IN CHULA VISTA, CALIF.
DEAR ABBY: My parents, while not upset with still having their four adult children's belongings in their home, solved their dilemma in a unique way. One Christmas we all gathered at their house and were delighted to find heaps of presents under the tree. Concerned that our folks had way overspent, imagine our surprise when we unwrapped the packages and found all of our own belongings! It was an inventive and effective way to clear out the attic and basement. We still talk about it to this day -- a warm Christmas memory. -- KATIE IN NEWARK, DEL.
DEAR ABBY: "Wants" is blessed that Dustin voiced his desire for his mom to keep his stuff. My mother continued asking me if I wanted my stuff for years. I said no, until one day, yes, I did. My parents are no longer alive, and I treasure the little stuffed dog that was my very first Christmas present.
I'd advise "Wants" to return some of the items to her son from time to time in the form of gifts. To him, they are treasures, and they can be returned in a way that won't make him feel betrayed. -- IRENE IN OWOSSO, MICH.
DEAR ABBY: Dustin should either pay rent to his mother or move his stuff out. If he doesn't, he has abandoned it and she can dispose of it as she sees fit, since it's her house to do with as she pleases. In all fairness, a deadline is reasonable, but it's been five years -- why give him six more months? Enough mollycoddling. -- ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
DEAR ABBY: Dustin may be lucky his mom wants his stuff out. My mom insisted on keeping my room exactly as I had left it as a shrine. I was glad not to have to move all my coin, toy and stamp collections and the other things from my first 18 years.
However, subsequently Mom allowed a young male relative to use my room, and he lost, stole or destroyed all of my memories. I was and am still sad, but I never told my mom 'cause "that's life." -- CHARLIE IN FLORIDARead more in: Family & Parenting
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